Preparing a recording is essential. A good recording is the most important thing to get a high-quality result. Setting everything up is an elaborate task. With screencasts and app videos it means resetting everything to how it was when you first launched an app, even if you flipped a thousand buttons. This is a lot of work clients often underestimate. For every time we start a recording anew, because something wasn’t quite right, we have to flip the thousand buttons again, and again, and again. No fun at all but necessary for a good shot.
On iOS I would love to keep things simple but overall it’s more complicated than necessary because there’s no concept of multiple users on a mobile device (yet). This means that the device that I’m recording on, is most of the times also the device that I use regularly, which causes problems, as we will see among other things in this post.
1. Setting the Stage
To set, or reset the stage I normally do a couple of things.
First and foremost, turning the screen on again is getting annoying after the tenth time. My recommendation: go into the Settings app and under Brightness set Auto-Lock to Never. This means the device won’t turn off its screen, even if a task is taking much longer than expected. But this also means that the recording app (Camtasia or QuickTime) will keep recording too. We had many many instances where our recording would stop, or fail to start because the old session wasn’t being closed, and a multitude of other reasons, that zCasting 3000 now recommends: Turn Auto-Lock OFF.
2. Resetting the App
As mentioned in the beginnging, it is tedious and troublesome to reset an app over and over and over. It is therefore a good practice to make a list of things that actually need to be reset. This is handy in cases where an app video has more steps involved than just a handful, but even for shorter App Store Previews it is good advice to keep such a list. You can refer to it later, and even the client can take a look at it. Therefore the zCasting 3000 recommendation: Make a list of things to reset for every new take.
3. Menubar Clutter
Second point: All those symbols. I do believe that viewers need focus. Video is like magic. A magician knows how to make people focus on one thing, so he can do another. A video can unfold its magic, when people are able to focus on the one thing they should be focusing on. And that is your app. That said we can be glad that Apple has chosen a quasi Standard for the menubar. If you didn’t know this, Apple puts a static clock in the menubar with a static Wifi signal, and some other things. However, a couple of menubar items still remain after the recording has started. Those are for location services, Do Not Disturb, etc. The zCasting 3000 recommendation is: if your app doesn’t rely on these things, turn them OFF.
4. Put Your App Front and Center
Third: Put your app front and center. This is not a must, but we do this for our app clients. When we record, we create an extra screen for their app, and remove everything but the app. We also put it front and center. This looks something like this:
Usually it’s just a couple of seconds the viewers get to see this, but setting the “stage” up this way, makes for a really nice and welcoming viewing experience — even if you end up not using it, it is good to have.
There you have it. Four advanced tips we can give for mobile screencasters. Thanks for tuning in this time. Remember you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more valuable tips and current news in the space.
- Note that we did not make a video for Junecloud (maybe not yet?), but we like to feature some of our favorite apps on the blog. ↩